Extracurricular Activities and Disadvantaged Youth: A Complicated—But Promising—Story


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Increased political and research interest in extracurricular activities stems, in part, from the claim that these programs especially benefit disadvantaged youth. However, little literature has synthesized studies across types of disadvantage to assess this claim. This article reviews research on disadvantaged youth in extracurricular programs, including differences by gender, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and immigrant status. Our review reveals a promising, if complicated, picture. Although disadvantaged youth are less likely to participate in extracurricular activities, they often experience greater benefits, depending on the risk status and activity type. Evidence clearly supports expanding access to extracurricular programs for disadvantaged youth.

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